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FirstAngelsJA launches business incubator programme for SMEs

SMALL and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are set to benefit from a new business incubator and training programme called RevUp Caribbean Limited. The programme is targeting start-ups and established SMEs in Jamaica, with plans to expand its reach across the Caribbean in January 2022.

The programme will also target entrepreneurs, founders of start-ups, and high-growth potential businesses to prepare them for funding success through world-class training, advising, and mentor matchmaking with local and global industry leaders. RevUP will provide the required support and harness the experience and skills of FirstAngelsJA (FAJ) members, as well as leading figures in the entrepreneurial ecosystem locally and overseas. The aim is to foster collaboration among founders to help them create profitable, sustainable companies, and for founders to become successful entrepreneurs.

At the helm of the programme are Sandra Glasgow, who will assume the role of managing director, and Joseph M Matalon, chairman of both the RevUp and FAJ boards. Glasgow and Matalon are supported by a cadre of directors including, attorney-at-law Sanya Goffe; Danielle Terrelonge, managing director, DRT Communications Limited; Kimala Bennett, managing director, The Limners and Bards Limited; Mark Kovinsky, managing director, Kova Capital Ventures, LLC; and Mayer J Matalon, vice-president, business development, York Investment Management SA.

Joseph Matalon shared that “First Angels has had to go well beyond the boundaries of operating as a typical angel investor network and has invested millions of dollars in seminars and workshops for founders at the pre-investment and post-investment stages”. The areas of focus for FAJ have included investment readiness, leadership, marketing, sales, team-building, systems, strategic planning, and market acceleration. He explained that, “This model will be adopted in the operation of RevUp Caribbean.”

Joseph Matalon, chairman, RevUp Caribbean Limited (File photo)

Glasgow noted, “RevUp is aiming to have 50 per cent of the businesses in the incubator programme to be women-owned or led”.

She went on to add that “a diverse workforce is an innovative workforce and women play a critical role in ensuring this”. Men and women will inevitably come from diverse backgrounds and have different perspectives on business.

She also noted, “Challenging one another and collaborating with others who think differently can help to foster creativity and promote unique ideas that propel businesses forward.”

Supporting women who own and/or run businesses is key to creating stronger companies, as decision-making is enriched, work teams are more equitable, and the wider business environment improves when development, respect, and creativity are encouraged and promoted.

Glasgow also added, “Many founders are good at developing a technology, product or service but significantly lack the broad package of skills and abilities required to successfully run and scale a business, including understanding the market, getting and holding on to customers, achieving product-market fit, optimising pricing, understanding finance and financial statements, building and motivating teams, adhering to good governance practices and principles that are critical to success and profitability.”

Sandra Glasgow, managing director, FirstAngelsJA (Photo: FIWEH Life)

These areas of business are basic requirements in order to turn a start-up into a scale-up. Additionally, many founders suffer greatly from a lack of access to necessary funding to enable them to grow and scale. FirstAngelsJA has, over the last seven years, invested over US$2 million as equity in 12 early stage companies.